This post documents my first GPU mining rig build using a mix of AMD RX 570 4GB and RX 580 8GB cards. For now, the following 4 GPUs are on the mining rig.
- MSI Radeon RX 580 ARMOR 8G OC
- ASUS Dual OC Radeon RX 580
- ASUS ROG Strix 4G OC Radeon RX 570
- XFX AMD Radeon RX 570 RS 4GB Black
These four cards are delivering a total of 112MH/s using Claymore on Windows 10.
AMD Mining Rig Parts Breakdown
Motherboard: ASUS Prime Z270-A LGA 1151 ATX – This mobo has 6 PCI-E slots and is a widely-used board for mining rigs. You can run 6 GPUs with ease on it and possibly more if using the M.2 slots with PCI-E converters.
Processor: Intel Pentium G4400 3.3 GHz Dual-Core LGA 1151 Processor – This processor costs a little bit more than the standard Intel Celeron G3930; however, the lower cache and frequency of the G3930 can be a burden on CPU resources when using several graphics cards and possibly creating a bottleneck that leads to a lower hash rate on your GPUs. I spend the extra $20 for the G4400 to avoid this.
Hard Drive: SanDisk 120GB SSD – You can find these in the $50 to $70 range. Yes, you can find cheaper alternatives; however, SanDisk has never let me down and SSD drives will save you tons of time during initial setup, along with reboots over time. Unless you are on a ultra tiny budget, I’d recommend not compromising on using a SSD. You can drop down to a 60GB even but get a SSD.
RAM: Crucial 8GB DDR4 2133MHz – You can use as little as 4GB but don’t forget to set your virtual memory in Windows to 16GB. I bought an 8GB ram stick because I couldn’t find 4GB sticks in stock anywhere. You’ll save $20-$30 if you use 4GB DDR4 RAM like this.
Power Supply: Corsair HXi Series HX1000i 1000W 80 Plus Platinum PSU – I went with a 1000w PSU for scaling this rig out to 6-7 cards. I had a similar EVGA PSU ordered; however, the back-order was taking too long and I jumped on this when it came in stock.
Risers: EXPLOMOS PCI-E Express Cable 1X TO 16X 6-pack – These are version 008S and all worked perfect out of the box using the molex power plugs.
Power Switch: Electop 2-pack Power Cable – Even though the ASUS Z270-A has a power button on the board, this $3 cable lets me route the cable to a more convenient location for the frequent reboots required during initial setup and provides easier access for future reboots. You get two in a pack for $5.29.
Frame: I used a couple spare 1″ x 2″ boards I had in the garage to make a frame. While it works, it’s not the best design and I have since ordered a $63 mining rig frame (including 4 fans) from China on ebay. I’ll update my thoughts once it arrives.
Operating System: Windows 10 Home – I opted to keep things simple for this first rig and went with Windows. I’ve been a Mac user for the past decade, so Windows is a little new to me; however, I was impressed with the improvements Windows has made over the years and have enjoyed working in Windows during this build. For future builds, I plan to branch out to Linux-based OS on some rigs.
AMD Mining Rig Setup
Given that this is the first mining rig build I’ve done, and the first time I’ve done more than swap a hard drive inside a PC in over a decade, I had a lot of questions and learning along the way. So, consider this a total newb breakdown of setting up a mining rig from assembling the parts to installing Windows, drivers and modding GPU BIOS.
Putting things together.
- Cable Routing: How you orient the motherboard and power supply are overlooked in every rig build tutorial and video I’ve seen; however, this is quite important. First, look at the position of your motherboard and PSU. Which way to the ports point? Which way will cables be routed? Don’t make the mistake that I did and point your PSU cables toward the interior of your rig so that they cross over your motherboard.
- CPU Mounting: If you purchased a new CPU (like the G4400 I used), it will ship with a fan and the compound that you need to attach the fan to your CPU. Read the instructions on mounting the CPU to the motherboard. Be sure to line up the corner arrow from the CPU with the corner arrow for the motherboard. Do not force the CPU into the socket. If you are using force to set it in the socket, you are doing it wrong and will likely damage your CPU and/or motherboard beyond repair.
- Powering the Motherboard: There are 2 power cables for your motherboard that have to be connected. First, the big 24-pin ATX cable. Second, the CPU power cable, which is an 8-pin connector on the same side of the board as the CPU socket. Use the diagram included with the card for specific direction.
- Powering the Hard Drive: Your SSD connects to on of the SATA ports on the motherboard as well as to your PSU using a SATA power cable.
- Don’t Connect GPUs: Before connecting a single GPU, boot the motherboard up to make sure everything works and install Windows.
Getting Ready to Install Windows.
- In order to install Windows, you need to create a bootable Windows USB drive.
- You can download a Windows 10 ISO file directly from Microsoft here.
- Next, download Rufus and run it on an existing computer (not your mining rig).
- Under device, select your USB drive and then select GPT partition scheme for UEFI.
- Name the drive and then check Create a bootable disk using “ISO image.”
- Click the little drive icon and select the Windows 10 ISO file you downloaded from Microsoft.
- Now click the Start button and it will turn your USB drive into a bootable USB drive that you can install on your mining rig.
- You may have to change your bootable disk options on your motherboard’s BIOS but your rig will boot into your BIOS if it doesn’t automatically attempt to boot from the USB drive and install Windows.
Installing and Optimizing Windows for Mining.
- Turn Off Windows Updates. The automatic updates in Windows 10 can be a real pain. For a mining rig, we are using very little of the features inside Windows and if there’s a significant update that’s going to help our rig, we’ll learn about it from the community. The last thing we want is for Windows to shut down our mining operation because it needs to update some random driver that we never use.
- You’ll have a prompt for Windows updates during the initial install. Turn it off.
- After Windows is installed, in RUN type “services.msc“
- Scroll down to Windows Updates
- If it’s “Live” or “Checking/Running” click “Stop”
- On “Startup Type” click “Disabled” and Apply the changes
- Increase Virtual Memory. This is crucial if you have 4GB RAM but go ahead and do it if you have 8GB RAM as well.
- On the Start Menu, click “Settings”
- Type “performance”
- Choose “Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows”
- Go to the “Advanced” tab and in the Virtual memory section, click “Change”
- Deselect “Automatically manage paging file size for all drives“
- Select “Custom size“
- Enter 16384 Initial Size box, and 16384 in the Maximum size box
- Click OK to save the new settings
- Change Power Plan Settings. You’ll be prompted when installing windows to choose a power plan. Choose the performance plan and select “never” for letting the computer or monitor go to sleep. But just to be sure…
- In Control Panel, select Power Options
- Make sure “High Performance” is selected and then click “Change plan settings“
- Make sure “Never” is selected for all options regarding the CPU and monitor
- Click “Change advanced power settings”
- Confirm that “PCI Express” -> “Link State Power Management“ is set to “Off”
Installing GPUs on the Mining Rig
Now that the base PC system is up and running, it’s time to shut everything down and install our RX 570 and RX 580 cards. Unless you want more headaches or just like to roll the dice, install one card at a time.
I turn off my PSU and unplug the PSU for an additional measure of safety.
Plug one PCI-E 1x adapter card into the first PCI-E slot on the motherboard. Connect the PCI-E 16x riser board to your GPU. Connect a molex power cable to the PCI-E 16x riser board from your PSU. You can use one molex power cable to power two separate riser boards.
Power up the rig.
Download and install the AMD Blockchain driver, which you can find here.
Installing and Running Claymore
Download the latest version of Claymore Dual Miner and install it on your rig. Edit your Start.bat file by deleting the contents and replacing it with the following contents:
setx GPU_FORCE_64BIT_PTR 0
setx GPU_MAX_HEAP_SIZE 100
setx GPU_USE_SYNC_OBJECTS 1
setx GPU_MAX_ALLOC_PERCENT 100
setx GPU_SINGLE_ALLOC_PERCENT 100
EthDcrMiner64.exe -epool us1.ethermine.org:4444 -ewal <Your_Ethereum_Address>.<RigName> -epsw x
I use the Ethermine.org pool but you can use Nanopool or another pool if you want. You’ll just need to change your Start.bat file to reflect that info. Obviously, you will need your ethereum address to receive deposits and then you can input a dedicated rig name for monitoring purposes.
With the Start.bat file modified with your info, you can run it and start mining ethereum with your first card.
Once it has mined for a few minutes, you’ll have an idea of what the default hash rate on your cards are. I was getting 22 MH/s on the stock RX 570 4GB models and around 25 MH/s on the stock RX 580 8GB models.
Modding the GPU BIOS
Now that you have the first card up and running, I have a baseline for the hash rate. To move beyond, we need to modify the BIOS of each card as we install them. Here is a good tutorial video on the proper process to follow:
The tools mentioned in the video are as follows:
- DDU: http://www.guru3d.com/files-details/display-driver-uninstaller-download.html
- GPU-Z: https://www.techpowerup.com/download/techpowerup-gpu-z/
- ATIWinFlash: https://www.techpowerup.com/download/ati-winflash/
- ATI Pixel Clock Patcher: https://www.monitortests.com/forum/Thread-AMD-ATI-Pixel-Clock-Patcher
- Anorak for vBIOS: https://anorak.tech/c/downloads
- SRB Polaris Editor: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=1882656.0
- MSI Afterburner: http://www.guru3d.com/files-details/msi-afterburner-beta-download.html
The only caveat is that I’ve had trouble getting overclock settings to stabilize and help with MSI Afterburner. I’ve seen reports of others with similar issues on AMD RX 500 cards but that using WattMan from the AMD Driver Settings yields stable results for overclocking and undervolting. That’s next on my list but for now, let’s get back to the BIOS settings.
For first timers, modding a BIOS is rather complex (as you can see from the above video). It is very important that you use a rom that is specific to the memory manufacturer on the card.
The Anorak forum is a goldmine for getting new rom files that are customized for mining with your cards. Here are the files that worked for me:
- MSI Radeon RX 580 ARMOR 8G OC (Samsung/Hynix memory): Use this rom – Powersave 1750
- ASUS Dual OC Radeon RX 580 (Hynix memory): Use this rom – ModdedAsus580_v1
- ASUS ROG Strix 4G OC Radeon RX 570 (Elpida memory): Use this rom – NVStrix279powersave
- XFX AMD Radeon RX 570 RS 4GB Black (Elpida/Hynix memory): Use this rom – Memshift 1500
I suggest installing one card at a time. Test it by mining on stock settings for a baseline. Then test it with the flashed BIOS using the AtiFlash.exe via command prompt as described in the above video. When it runs stable in Claymore, then you can move on to the next card.
As of now, the cards with the above BIOS mods and settings provide the following hash rates:
- MSI Radeon RX 580 ARMOR 8G OC @ 28.1 Mh/s
- ASUS Dual OC Radeon RX 580 8G @ 30.3 Mh/s
- ASUS ROG Strix 4G OC Radeon RX 570 @ 28.7 Mh/s
- XFX AMD Radeon RX 570 RS 4GB Black @ 25.2 Mh/s
My goal is to get the MSI 580 card to 30 Mh/s and the XFX 570 card to 28-29 Mh/s. I’m still testing new BIOS mods and will update this post if I find something significant along the way. Feel free to drop your own tips in the comment section below.